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Monday, 17 June, 2002, 10:01 GMT 11:01 UK
Indonesian speaker denies corruption
Akbar Tandjung takes the stand as his corruption trial, 17 June 2002
Mr Tandjung has refused calls to step down
Indonesian parliamentary speaker Akbar Tandjung has denied misusing millions of dollars when taking the stand on Monday for the first time in his trial for corruption.

Mr Tandjung, who also leads the country's second largest political party Golkar, is accused of helping divert about $4m of state funds to Golkar's 1999 election campaign.


My good intention to distribute the food evidently was not carried out very well by the foundation, and I regret it

Akbar Tandjung
The money in question was from state food agency Bulog and was meant to pay for food for poor families.

Mr Tandjung is one of the highest officials to face trial and correspondents say this is a major test of President Megawati Sukarnoputri's pledge to crack down on corruption.

On Monday Mr Tandjung denied any personal wrong-doing and blamed a co-defendant for misusing the money.

Money returned

He told the court that the president at the time, BJ Habibie, had ordered him as then state secretary to distribute the food to five poor provinces.

He said he only learned the money had not been properly spent when he received a letter from co-defendant Winfred Simatupang.

Mr Tandjung said Mr Simatupang, who was contracted to distribute the food, apologised and has since returned the money to the attorney general's office.

"When I got that letter I was angry with him," Mr Tandjung told the court. "He lied to me."

If convicted, Mr Tandjung could face a 20-year jail term and Golkar could be disqualified from contesting the 2004 election, or even disbanded altogether.

However, many analysts believe this is unlikely.

Mr Tandjung, the speaker of the lower house, has so far survived the scandal, which started in March when he was detained for almost a month.

Several Golkar members have called for his resignation but he has refused to step down.

Also on trial is Dadang Sukandar, the head of the charity.

See also:

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24 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
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